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"Same old same old."
2 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "When I was eight or so, I had a brief fascination with the story of Henri Charrière, or “Papillon,” a French thief falsely accused of murder in 1931." (more)
"A Rare Errol Morris Misfire"
2 stars
Jack Sommersby says... "Neither challenges the mind nor engages our senses." (more)
"A Slice into the Woods"
2 stars
Jack Sommersby says... "If this hadn't been a sequel to one of cinema's most revered classics it probably wouldn't have received quite as much scorn. But it's still problematic in more than a few areas." (more)
"Missing what it takes to be an epic for small or big screen."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "A local theater has a 70mm/widescreen festival that includes a lot of epics of the sort that "Outlaw/King" is looking to be, and though Charlton Heston seems like ridiculous casting for 75% of the ones he's in, I wonder what a Robert the Bruce picture with him in the lead would have been like, or at least one made to dazzle on a huge Cinemascope screen rather than one shot knowing that it will get 99.9% if its audience on Netflix. Maybe it had the same problems, but maybe it stands a chance of overpowering them with sheer theatricality and spectacle." (more)
"Grief and laughter mixed just right."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "It is entirely possible that by this time next year, we'll be looking at this "Last Letter" as one half of a phenomenon fairly unique in film history, as director Shunji Iwai is already shooting a remake of this Mandarin-language movie in his native Japan - it usually goes in the other order, and seldom in such rapid succession. Those strange circumstances make this film an oddity, but nevertheless still in line with Iwai's previous films, an earnest and emotional work that's also quite sweet and funny." (more)
"Delivers a solid battle with Nazi monsters, and what more do you want?"
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Even without the horror stuff plastered all over the advertising, I don't think you could take someone to see "Overlord" as a wartime action film and have them be caught flat-footed by things going into a decidedly less realistic direction. It gives the game away fairly early and doesn't build quite enough to feel like more than the basics before doing so, but the jump to mad scientists and monsters works pretty well." (more)
"The Lady Vanishes... from the morgue!"
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2018 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "The Vanished" almost seems too simple, with all the conclusions to be drawn from the available evidence made quickly, and most of the time used to hopefully shake some new information loose. The trick is seeing how long the filmmakers can tease that out, since it would seem everything will fall together as soon as the last puzzle piece shows up. That director Lee Chang-hee keeps it a great deal of fun until the credits roll is a pretty good job of juggling and knowing when to pay off and play against expectations." (more)
"Welcome back, Spike."
5 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "In a way, Spike Lee’s filmmaking career from the beginning has been a rebuke and retort to the infamous 'Birth of a Nation,' the movie credited with sparking the comeback of the Ku Klux Klan in America." (more)
"It never hurts to remind ourselves that Buster Keaton was a genius."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Is there necessarily much new to learn about Buster Keaton in 2018, a hundred years after his first on-screen successes and ninety after his most fertile period ended? No, not really, although many viewers of Peter Bogdanovich's "celebration" will likely pick up something new to them. It's a good primer by a meticulous student of the medium, and it's worth having one of those come around once in a while to remind people of Keaton's brilliance anew." (more)
ROMA (2018)
"Maybe Cuaron's best, smart and heartfelt and beautiful all at once."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "There are those that believe that subtlety is the mark of truly great art, and manipulation is its enemy, but it seems unlikely that Alfonso Cuarón is among them, and not just because he has done as much popular, commercial work as art-house material. "Roma" falls into the latter category, and viewers can spend a lot of time teasing out how it works and what its symbols mean, but even without putting that sort of academic effort in, they'll feel what Cuarón is saying and be pulled along. It's superficially a piece of film-snob material that anybody can enjoy." (more)

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